16 – 14

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“Uniforms?” Trissiny had gone perfectly still in her chair, listening to whoever currently spoke (mostly Rasha, though Glory and Sweet had chimed in with clarifications) with narrowed eyes and her full attention, her cooling tea forgotten in her hands. “What can you tell me about the quality of them?”

“Ah…” Rasha glanced guiltily at Glory. “This is embarrassing. Fabric, cut, and fashion details in general are part of my education, here, but I have to confess that in the moment I didn’t even think to examine them.”

“Observing minutia while under stress is an important skill, Rasha,” Glory said with a gentle smile, “but not one in which you have yet been trained. Don’t reproach yourself.”

“In any case, if I might interject?” Sweet added. “I suspect their fashionability isn’t what Thorn was curious about. I’ve seen these Purists here and there around the temple all week, and I can at least attest that they are actual uniforms, not somebody’s slapped-together costume collection. They fit, they match, and they’re solidly constructed. About on a par with the Sisterhood’s own uniforms, I’d say.”

“Then someone with serious resources is bankrolling this,” Trissiny murmured. “Equipment doesn’t just tumble out of the ether.”

“They are clothes, though,” the Bishop offered. “Not in the same league as Silver Legion armor.”

“But they include chain mail under the tabards,” Rasha added, “and metal-backed bracers. And their swords all match, and aren’t like Legion swords.”

Trissiny had let her gaze drift toward the wall, frowning, but now zeroed back in on her. “Can you describe them?”

“Longer,” Rasha said. “Bigger, overall. Longer blades, handles, and crossguards. Oh, and I remember they had heavy… What’s that part called, at the other end of the handle?”

“The pommel. Yeah, a bigger blade needs a heavier one to balance the sword, and if it’s heavy enough it can be almost as dangerous as the blade, at least in skilled hands.”

“Straight blades, too,” Rasha added, now narrowing her own eyes in thought. “Long and straight, not with the curved sides Legion short swords have.”

Trissiny nodded once. “I suppose it’s too much to hope anyone’s seen these used in combat.”

“I have a feeling if the Purists had been actually fighting with people, you’d have been one of the first to hear about it,” Sweet said, grinning.

“Damn, girl, curb that bloodlust,” Darius added reprovingly.

“It’s not that I want people to take swords to each other,” she said, shooting him an annoyed look. “That’s dueling equipment. Longswords, chain mail tunics, wrist bracers. There is an Eagle Style combat form that utilizes such tools, but it’s the kind of thing blademasters learn, and that’s through the civilian Sisterhood; Legionnaires don’t usually train in it. If these women are walking around carrying weapons they don’t actually know how to use, that’s grounds to call them down doctrinally.”

“I can only imagine what a grave sin that is in Avei’s service,” said Layla.

“It’s not so much grave, in and of itself,” Trissiny replied, “as an indication that you don’t respect weapons or warfare and are engaged in behavior that gets soldiers killed if you do it in an actual military situation. Someone who gets that reputation can forget about advancing through either the Sisters or the Legions. Anyway, I was thinking more about the alternative. If these women have just been gathered together and issued equipment by someone with deep pockets, that’s one thing. If they have received training, this could be a real problem.”

“Well, I can tell you they haven’t been trained in anything they’d need to actually accomplish what they’re allegedly here to do,” said Sweet. “Both from what I’ve personally seen and what I’ve heard from other Guild members who’ve had business in the Temple lately, these Purists are rapidly making themselves even less popular than they were to begin with. Smart religious radicals try to build a widespread power base before making a move, and are adept at recruitment. These are hostile and full of themselves and leaving a trail of pissed-off fellow Avenists wherever they go.”

“It sounds like someone’s using them as a meat shield, then,” Trissiny murmured, again staring at the far wall. “Or a distraction. Whatever the scheme is, they aren’t the main play.”

“This probably goes without saying,” Sweet added, “but we all know who has access to the necessary resources to gather together a bunch of fringe weirdos and issue them full kits of equipment, and a specific interest right now in creating trouble for the Sisterhood of Avei. Yes?”

Everyone nodded, expressions grim.

“You know the worst part?” Tallie said softly, staring at the window. “Everything we went through so those Justinian loyalists could be brought to justice, and all of that, all of it, was just him…cleaning house. Now, here we are again, with more Church loyalists. And apparently, they’re also expendables he’s just throwing at us.”

“Someone should really look into cutting his throat,” Layla said primly.

“I know the feeling,” Sweet said with a sigh. “I danced on his string for a good long while, told myself I was doing the smart thing by staying close to him… Hell, maybe I was right and it’s this show of defiance that’s the mistake. No sense crying over spilt milk now. I bring this up because we also know of someone who would be well-versed in Avenist philosophy, and uniquely qualified to train them in an esoteric dueling form.”

“It takes years to actually train in any martial art,” said Trissiny. “Besides, of all the things I heard about Syrinx during her tenure, there was never so much as a hint that she had Purist sympathies.”

“I don’t think Basra actually has any theological opinions, or opinions about anything but herself and what was best for her. I just mean she’s got the inside knowledge to set this specific thing up, and we know she’s on the leash of our primary suspect.”

“Yeah, point taken,” she said, nodding at him. “So the question is, what to do about this?”

“Didn’t we answer that up front?” Darius asked. “Clobber ‘em. Apparently, nobody’ll even mind.”

Trissiny just frowned again. “I smell a trap.”

“I agree,” Glory said before any of her apprentices could chime in again. “Unpopular as the Purists may be, there will still be consequences if they are undone by any abrupt or violent means. At minimum, it will be a further disruption within the Sisterhood at a time when they can ill afford such. And that is the course of action most likely to be taken by either a Hand of Avei or the Thieves’ Guild—the two parties most directly goaded into this by singling out Rasha for attack.”

“Surely you’re not suggesting we should just leave them alone?” Rasha exclaimed.

“That’s also a trap,” said Sweet, idly swirling his teacup and staring down into it. “Good instincts, Glory; I’m inclined to agree. This whole business puts all of us between the ol’ rock and hard place: either let asshole fanatics run loose, or come down on them hard. Either one means, at minimum, further weakening of the Sisterhood, and possibly also whoever is involved in dealing with them. You can bet there will be other agents in place and poised to react to either move.”

“So, we have to widen the net,” said Tallie. “Find the string-pullers behind all this and lean on them.”

“That will take time,” Rasha objected. “Time while all of this is unfolding. It’s almost as bad as deciding to let the Purists run rampant.”

“At minimum,” said Trissiny, “I need to talk to the High Commander and others within the Sisterhood; it’s certain they’ll have more intel that we don’t yet. But as a general rule, if your enemy maneuvers you into picking between two options that both serve them…”

“You do something else,” Rasha said, a grin lighting up her face. “Any ideas, Thorn?”

“In point of fact,” Trissiny said, her answering smile more than a little malicious, “I have a really good one.”


The main streets of Tiraas were always at least somewhat congested, even in the middle of the night or under pounding rain. Currently neither condition prevailed, but traffic was moving even slower than usual, thanks to the winter; snow had of course been cleared off the streets, but it was still cold enough that any standing moisture turned to ice, especially where the salt-spreaders had missed a spot, and there were deep banks of slush in the gutters. Allegedly, some of that stuff glowed in the dark in the industrial districts, thanks to the precipitation gathering up loose mana on its way to the ground. Teal had seen this phenomenon around her family’s factories, though it wasn’t evident in the daylight and anyway, they were not driving through any factory neighborhoods.

She much preferred to drive her sleek little roadster, but it had no rear seating and would have been cramped with both of them and F’thaan, and impossible to give Trissiny a ride in. Anyway, it wasn’t as if she could really unleash its motive charms in city traffic, not to mention that the overpowered racing carriage wasn’t the best vehicle for teaching a new driver. It all worked out for the best, as the company showpiece she was borrowing was a luxury model with built-in radiator charms that kept the interior pleasantly warm and the windows free of frost and fog despite the winter chill.

“Whoof,” Teal grunted, grimacing, as F’thaan poked his head forward between their seats, panting excitedly. At that proximity, his sulfurous breath was overpowering. She reached up to cradle his chin with one hand, scratching at his cheek for a moment while he leaned ecstatically into her touch, his tail thumping against the back seat, then gently pushed him backward. “Sit, F’thaan.”

The hellhound whined softly in protest, but obeyed. Despite being a little over-exuberant with youth, he was well-trained and obedient. Shaeine brooked no lack of discipline in her household.

Glancing to the side, Teal caught her spouse’s garnet eyes studying her, Shaeine’s face wreathed in a warm little smile that all but forced a similar look onto her own face.

“What?”

“I love to watch you drive,” Shaeine murmured, reaching over to rest a hand on Teal’s knee. “So much power, such a sophisticated machine, and you control it so deftly it seems you’re not even thinking about it.”

Teal’s grin widened of its own volition. As the carriage had just pulled to a stop at an intersection while the well-bundled soldier in the middle directed the traffic from the cross-street forward, she gently took Shaeine’s hand in her own and raised it to kiss the backs of her fingers. That was more intimacy than Narisian manners allowed in public, but as another perk of driving a vehicle designed for the comfort of the rich rather than speed and power, the windows were charmed to be opaque from the outside.

“Comes with practice,” she murmured, lowering their clasped hands but not releasing Shaeine’s yet. She wouldn’t need to handle the throttle until they were directed to start moving again. “Don’t worry, you’ll get there; I bet you’ll find you have a knack for it.”

“I wasn’t worried about that,” Shaeine murmured, squeezing her fingers lightly and rubbing her thumb across the back of Teal’s hand. “I do indeed have a knack for combining a delicate touch with just the right amount of force. As I believe you are aware.”

“You just like to see me blush,” Teal complained, inadvertently obliging.

The elf’s laugh was low, throaty, and entirely unsuitable for public, but she relented. “Actually, after seeing these streets, I am somewhat concerned about the status of the place you chose for me to practice. Is it going to be as slick as this? Learning to drive on ice seems less than ideal.”

“Yeah, the weather sure didn’t do us any favors,” Teal agreed, leaning forward to look up at the overcast sky. “I was hoping the dry winter would hold for a while, but that was probably too much to ask of Tiraas. We may have to make alternate plans if we get there and it’s too terrible, but actually it might be okay. The fairground is a huge gravel lot, and last night it snowed without sleeting, so it should still have decent traction.”

“Well, in the worst case scenario, I’m sure we can find a way to pass the—”

She was interrupted by a loud thunk against her side of the carriage, which set F’thaan to barking furiously. Both of them turned to behold an object stuck to Shaeine’s window: an innocuous-looking black stone dangling from a short chain whose other end was attached to a small adhesive charm that now kept it in place. Alongside them, the carriage in the next lane had its side window swung open to reveal the driver, whose face was mostly concealed by a cap and a thick scarf.

Teal leaned forward again to stare at him around Shaeine. “Did he just—”

Then the other driver raised a wand to point at them.

She couldn’t summon a full shield while constrained by the carriage, but Shaeine instantly lit up in silver with a protective corona that might or might not have stopped a wandshot at that range, prompting a yelp of protest from F’thaan. The surge of divine magic triggered a reaction from the device stuck to their carriage: the black stone immediately lit up with orange runes, but only for a fraction of a second before the entire thing exploded, shattering the window and causing Shaeine to jerk away toward teal with a muted outcry as her aura flickered out.

The carriage itself went silent and still as the surge of infernal power shorted out its enchantments.

“Shaeine!” Teal shouted, hurling herself across the front seat to shield the drow with her own body.

The driver of the other carriage leaned out his window slightly to fire the wand—fortunately not at them, but at an angle across the side of their vehicle, such that the lightning bolt smashed a burning scar along its lacquered paneling and destroyed the latch holding the rear door closed.

Immediately the other carriage’s rear door swung open and a second man leaned out. He moved with amazing speed, as if this motion had been drilled to perfection. Yanking the Falconer carriage’s broken door out of the way, he leaned in, seized F’thaan by one leg, and jerked backward.

The carriage spun forward into traffic in defiance of both the oncoming vehicles and the policeman directing them, ignoring both the officer’s piercing whistle and alarm bells being yanked by multiple other drivers. It accelerated around the corner, nearly skidding into a mailbox on the icy streets, and vanished out of view just as the rear door swung shut behind a still-yelping F’thaan.


“Can’t you shut that beast up?” Jasper shouted over the noise of the ongoing fight in the back seat.

“You just drive!” Rake shouted back as he struggled to fend off the infuriated demonic hound. The job had been meticulously planned and both of them, not just Rake, wore armored gloves and thick cloth padding under the sleeves of their winter coats, the better for handling a hostile dog. Jasper didn’t risk taking his eyes off the road, but to judge by the noises coming from behind him, Rake was having more difficulty than expected wrestling the hellhound into place. He’d brought a stun prod, but before it could be used he had to get the creature at least arm’s length away. Apparently the hound was fully determined to get its jaws around him.

Navigating around slower-moving vehicles in the slushy streets was hard enough without that going on. It seemed like every minute course correction sent the carriage into a slight skid; were he not such an experienced getaway driver he’d undoubtedly have wrapped them around a lamp post already. Still, that very nearly happened as the whole carriage lurched to one side, accompanied by a bellow from Rake as both bodies hit one door.

“Get it the fuck under control!” Jasper shouted.

“Concentrate on your job, asshole! Son of a bitch, mutt, you don’t settle down I’m gonna blow your—”

“Don’t you fuckin’ dare!” he snapped, eyes still on the road. “Dead things don’t breathe! No hellhound breath, no payday. Just break a couple of its legs if you can’t—”

It wasn’t that he failed to see the streak of fire plummeting from the sky, there simply was not enough time to react. The thing impacted the street with a force that smashed a crater in the very pavement. Yelling incoherently, Jasper did his best, avoiding the instinct to slam on brakes which on icy streets would have been fatal. He just didn’t have the space or time to go into a controlled skid around it, though, only managing to turn the carriage into a sideways slide so that struck the burning figure at an angle rather than head-on.

Good thing, too, as the person he ran over proved as immovable as a petrified oak. The entire carriage crumpled around her, one whole fender and front wheel obliterated by the impact and the windscreen reduced to a spider web of cracks. He was hurled forward and felt his ribs crack as they impacted the shipwheel. Had he struck her directly at that speed the thing probably would have been smashed right through him.

All Jasper could do was sit there, struggling to breathe against the agony. Not that he had much time even for that.

The creature reached forward, clawed hands punching through the windscreen as if it wasn’t there. One wrapped fully around his neck, and in the next moment he was yanked bodily out, through the remains of the windscreen and possibly the dashboard itself, to judge by how much it hurt. His vision swam and darkened as he very nearly blacked out from the pain, perceiving nothing but swirling colors and a roaring in his ears for an unknown span of seconds.

There was no telling how long it was or even if he ever fell fully unconscious, but the world swam back into focus, accompanied by pounding anguish from what felt like more of his body than otherwise. He heard screams, the frantic barking of the damn dog, running feet, alarm bells, and the distant but rapidly approaching shrill tone of a police whistle.

And right in front of him, a demon. She was a woman with hair of fire, eyes like burning portals into Hell itself, and blazing orange wings that arched menacingly overhead. In addition to Jasper, she now held Rake in a similar position, one set of murderous talons wrapped around each of their necks.

Dangling Jasper off to one side, she pulled the gasping Rake forward to stare at him from inches away, in a voice that sounded like the song of an entire choir despite its even, deadly calm.

“Excuse me. Did you just kick my dog?”

Rake had been clutching the hand holding him up, uselessly trying to pry it away. At that, he lost his grip and went limp, eyes rolling up into his head.

Jasper had lost his grip on his wand at some point, but he never went anywhere without at least two. The second was holstered at his side, fortuitously reachable by the arm that still worked. Despite the pain screaming from every part of him, he managed to claw it loose, trying to bring it up in a wavering grip.

The demon shifted her attention to him at the motion, just in time to find the tip of the wand pointed at her face.

Jasper tried to issue some kind of threat or warning, but found his voice muffled by the grip on his throat.

To his astonishment, the demon leaned forward, opening her mouth, and bit down on the end of the wand.

Instead of biting it off, though, she dropped the unconscious Rake, grabbed his wand hand with her now-freed talon, and mashed the clicker down.

Lighting blazed straight into her mouth, setting off a nimbus of static at that range which made his clothes and every hair on his body try to stand upright, not to mention sending painful arcs of electricity in every direction. It was the backlash of sheer heat burning his hand right through his heavy glove that made him choke out a strangled scream against the grip on his neck. It felt like his fingers were being burned right off.

Jasper didn’t get the courtesy of being dropped, unlike his partner. She simply tossed him away like an old rag; he flew most of the way across the street and hit the icy pavement with an audible crunch of something that felt important. This time, he definitely blacked out.


By the time the military police made it to the scene, Vadrieny had gathered F’thaan into her arms, stroking his fur and murmuring soothingly. He finally stopped barking when she picked him up, though he was whining and trembling violently. Checking him over as best she could, she found he didn’t appear to have broken limbs or any other serious injury, though of course at the first opportunity he’d get a much more careful inspection with Teal’s softer, clawless hands.

The cop who arrived was on foot, and in fact appeared to be the crossing guard from the last intersection. He had run the entire way, blowing non-stop on his whistle, and yet appeared barely out of breath, a testament to the fitness of the Imperial military police. He also had his wand out by the time he got here and skidded to a stop in a patch of loose salt, barely avoiding a fall, wide eyes taking in the scene.

Wrecked carriage, shattered pavement, two nearby bodies, and a flaming demon cuddling a horned dog in the middle of the street. She had a feeling this wasn’t covered in basic training.

“Don’t—you just… Put your hands where I can see them!” the officer barked, taking aim at her with the wand and quickly regaining his poise.

Vadrieny tucked the shivering hellhound against her body, wrapping one wing protectively around him and turning slightly to further put her pet out of the line of fire. She kept her head turned around to fix the officer with a stare, and slowly raised one eyebrow.

“…or?”

The man swallowed visibly.

Behind him, a carriage emerged from the mess of halted vehicles, actually driving up on the sidewalk to get around them. It was a late-model Falconer, with one side smashed and burned by wandfire, which explained only part of the difficulty it seemed to be having. The thing moved in awkward little surges at the direction of someone not familiar with how its throttle worked, veering drunkenly on the slick street, and actually went into a full skid when it tried to stop. Fortunately, it wasn’t going fast enough to do more than spin sideways before it ran out of momentum, still several yards from the soldier, who nonetheless sidestepped further away.

Shaeine emerged from the driver’s side, stepping forward toward the policeman with her hands raised disarmingly.

“Ma’am, get back!” he snapped.

“It’s all right, officer,” she said soothingly. “There is no danger, and everything is under control. I am extremely sorry for this disturbance, but I assure you, no one is being threatened here. All of this can be explained.”

His eyes shifted from her to Vadrieny and then back, incredulity plain on his face.

“The explanation,” she added ruefully, “might not be…short.”

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31 thoughts on “16 – 14

  1. It’s a brand new decade. I had both Christmas and New Year messages I wanted to post for y’all, but I’m stumbling through one of the worst mental health periods I’ve ever had and every chapter leaves me feeling wrung of my last spark of energy for a few days.

    I love and appreciate you all for still being here with me. Here’s hoping what comes is better for all of us.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Happy New Years, congratulations on your many achievements, and may you find comfort, peace, accomplishment and prosperity in the new year.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Unless they were planning on selling hellhound breath for lots of money, I’m pretty sure just asking Teal and Shaeine would have worked out much better.

    Gotta hate Justinian, wow.

    Happy new year, Webb! Thanks for the chapter 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Uhm, no. Hellhound breath is a very restricted, expensive, and questionable material, and I have no doubt that a lot of very bad things can be made and done with it. Perhaps I’m overestimating exactly how much trouble it could potentially cause, but if I’m even halfway right it’s a question of not handing out fantasy-radon to random strangers who ask.

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      1. For sure not handing out! It could probably be used as torture tool to keep someone continuously awake, for awake. But if they needed it for medical purposes, Teal would accompany them and help with the issue.

        Given the last chapter, though, the situation is indeed a lot more complicated.

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  3. …how meticulously-planned can that abduction have been if they didn’t have any answers to “the demon whose dog we just stole finds us”? Like, what did they *think* was gonna happen? It’s not like they were able to blend into a crowd or anything to avoid aerial surveillance; that was a pretty conspicuous ambush. That level of carelessness says to me that whoever hired these guys didn’t actually want F’thaan, which begs the question of what this actually *does* accomplish. To me, this makes the most sense as a distraction, to make them emotionally invested in investigating who hired these guys while something else is happening elsewhere.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My first guess is that one of those demon knowledge genies just lead two infernomancer fools to their doom after they pissed it off. Other possible causes may also intentionally lead two ill-prepared bandits into this kind of mess, to cause this kind of a destructive altercation for any of a wide variety of political purposes. Simpler still is if there was sufficient incompetence in the intelligence gathering or planning of this heist to miss, ignore, or underestimate the bard that turns into a demon. That last one is probably a lot more likely than it sounds at first: Consider how debugging and user-proofing in the real world never works as well as you would hope because fools are so danged inventive when it comes to making brand new ways to screw up.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Ah, right, I keep forgetting that I’m overly paranoid, so my idea of “meticulously-planned” is much more thorough than most people’s.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. meticulously planned means they have lots of experience with cargo snatch and grabs, not that this specific job was planned.

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      1. “The job had been meticulously planned” is not an ambiguous statement. They planned the job. Poorly, as it turns out, but they definitely did plan it.

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  4. Archdemon in the middle of a public street in Tiraas.
    That’s going to cause all kinds of problems.
    Even if it doesn’t get publically connected/known that the Falconer heir is hosting an Archdemon.

    It might even give Justinian (or someone) leverage to try to take away Teal’s whatchamacallit that indicates that she’s not evil.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Talisman of absolution.” And yeah, Vadrieny being led into exactly this kind of violent altercation is a very plausible guess for what the people who planned this were thinking. Still, it’s hard to overestimate the human potential for overwhelming greed, motivated-reasoning that draws poor conclusions, and simple incompetence.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I vote that Trissiny calls the leadership of the purists into a very public conference, sprouts her Wings and excommunicates the lot of them.

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  6. Well that was… Interesting, those guys had to be guild. I can’t imagine someone being an *experienced* getaway driver without being guild. So somehow they managed to plan a job to rob one not just someone who doesn’t deserve it, teal, but also someone who could *easily* break their faces for the attempt.

    This has to be a publicity stunt by Justinian. He somehow new that they were going to be in town, set up the purists as bait for Trissny and put up some Guild members for this shit. He will probably be trying to discredit Adventurers as a whole, not just them in particular, trying to show how disruptive and uncooperative they are. It just… Doesn’t seem wise? If that’s his game then it’s going to fail. Trissny has already replied he is up to something and Teal and Shaeine aren’t going to face much consequences for this, particularly because they are absolutely justified.

    The University has already proven it can weather a PR assault just fine, and it has gotten even better PR in recent days.

    What is he up to?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Don’t be so hasty. For one thing, Justinian has a history of setting up annoying distractions whose main purpose, or even sole purpose, is to be annoying distractions. Considering what all secrets he’s got to keep buried on pain of death and failure (time travel kidnapping of Elilial’s daughters is only one of the things) that could be the full stop explanation of what he’s up to. When people are too busy fighting fires, skirmishes and bad PR this taxes their time, energy and attention which they could otherwise be using to find Justinian’s dirt and make trouble for him.

      For another, if Justinian set this up to mess with Vadrieny I would be very disappointed in how lackadaisical and halfhearted he’s being if he didn’t also set up a dozen trustworthy witnesses who will swear that Vadrieny attacked and killed these thieves for no reason. Perhaps his other agents will iron out the details so that story works by dealing some final blows to silence the thieves: It would be sub-optimal if they were alive to contradict that kind of story, wouldn’t it? We know he’s schemed to gain control of at least one the other daughters of Elilial, successfully, now: It makes sense for him to go after the complete set if he’s trying to gain control over mommy dearest by using them.

      Lastly, remember that the thieves’ guild has also withdrawn from the universal church. That marks them as enemies to be pressured by the church. Entangling their people in a stupid and Pyrrhic mess that may draw them into conflict with one or more of the Falconers, Narisians and Ellinists in a, “Let’s you and him fight!” kind of dirty trick makes a great deal of sense from that angle.

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  7. > This whole business puts all of us between the ol’ rock and hard place: either let asshole fanatics run loose, or come down on them hard.

    So come down on them soft. Spend an hour brainstorming cutting ripostes and puns, go out in public to the Temple, making sure to gather a big crowd, see a Purist, drop a few bon mots then walk away to see the High Command before the Purists can argue. And if they try anything by force, whip out the angel wings and excommunicate them.

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    1. Intelligence is the mother of victory:
      I vote for putting a bounty in with the Thieves’ Guild to steal their spiffy swords, armour and uniforms, while looking for intel in their stuff. Those unusual and moderately pricey costumes probably have a logistical trail that can be followed back to its source, and if not they’ll probably be hard to replace. Hopefully while they’re at it the thieves in question can gather up internal communications that have some kind of hint of where they came from that isn’t just a trap or red herring.

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  8. I’m hoping that the Great Hellhound Caper will end up levering open for our inspection some of the tensions in the existence of the Guild. We have an organization of thieves that in principle is meant to fight abuse of power, but whose members still need to make a living when they are not specifically fighting the power. This presumably involves stealing from folks who Guild members don’t know have committed any abuses, raising the question as to whether Guild members are abusing their own power. But maybe this is resolved by the fact that when caught, Guild members aren’t supposed to resist arrest, and then (it seems?) work within the legal system, even if that does allow hiring shyster lawyers.

    I’m curious where the actions and consequences of this caper will fall. We have Guild members who have (as I read it) been injured and embarrassed—that would seem to require some kind of response to preserve rep! But the Guild members arguably were just apprehended in the midst of a failed job. And Teal and Shaeine normally wouldn’t be on the abuse of power list (where Vadrieny’s normal classification falls is beyone me). But Teal/Vadrieny didn’t just recover their dog, they caused more injury and potentially much more embarrassment than strictly was needed given their powers. Then there’s the issue of whether the Guild can actually afford to try to get revenge on Teal/Vadrieny, given her various connections and personal power.

    Sounds like a nightmare! The only thing I’m certain of is Style wearing these thieves as a boot for the rest of their natural lives.

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    1. A hellhound is a almost a money tree if we consider exactly how rare and coveted hellhound breath alone is among particular people. It only takes an unsympathetic view of how Teal, Shaeine, Vadrieny and everyone connected to them have treated F’thaan as mostly like an ordinary dog to interpret that as hoarding unearned wealth, and therefore a prime subject for the, “unwary tax.”

      That justification for the operation falls down on both practical and social concerns though. The people doing this probably didn’t clear it with Thorn first, which is disrespecting another thief’s connections: Thieves need their connections to operate so even if that’s fair by the doctrine it’s still picking a fight with the Hand of Avei in her capacity as a thief. They probably didn’t clear it with the boss either: Aren’t operations that conflict with other religions supposed to be cleared with the boss because of the potential for big, political messes as a result? They tried to rob a Themynrite priestess, Vesk’s most disappointing bard, and one of the daughters of Elilial here, which seems unwise even before their known associates and allegiances get factored into it.

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      1. The thieves were set up. Justinian didn’t know how or who but he knew a disproportionate amount of force would be used. That’s a crime. Plus there’s driving without a license.

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      2. Forget everything else: Dude, I don’t care if he pisses scorpion venom, try telling Style you tried to steal some folks pet puppy and see what happens.

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